Quebec budget: billions earmarked for education but critics say don't expect services
The Quebec government’s budget earmarks a $6.1-billion increase in education spending over the next 10 years.
In order to deliver on a key promise of kindergarten for four-year-old children, the Coalition Avenir Québec is investing $1 billion over five years.
However, critics say there is a big problem with the plan. They say there aren’t enough teachers or support staff — even if there is more money to recruit them.
“You need people to recruit and there is a labour shortage in Quebec,” said Yves-Thomas Dorval from the Quebec Employers’ Council.
Union representatives for thousands of Quebec teachers agree.
“There is going to be a problem finding teachers for kindergarten” said Pierre Antoine Harvey, from the Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ).
The province is still moving ahead and to do that, it will also have to build classrooms in existing schools. A total of $2 billion is set aside for that.
WATCH BELOW: Quebec government pushes on with plan to enroll 4-year-olds in preschool
Another $1 billion is in place for renovations and to build new schools. There is also millions for extra-curricular activities and special education services.
Critics, however, warn that just because the government has put money into education, doesn’t mean they will be able to deliver.
Harvey says there are two problems, including the province’s growing labour shortage.
“Last year we had money for services,” he said.
“But we couldn’t do those projects because we didn’t have enough support staff to implement the investments.”
The other issue, according to Harvey, is that the budget does not have enough money to recruit new teachers or retain the ones already working in Quebec.
The CSQ says that after five years, a fifth of teachers leave — and it says this budget does not have money to increase salaries and improve working conditions.
The government says that it will try and lure retired teachers, as well as those who have switched professions to come back to the education system.
The first 250 classrooms for kindergarten for four-year-old children is expected to be ready to go by the fall of 2019.